As our new
Friday, February 29
As our new
Tuesday, February 26
Monday, February 25
On the opening day of Tesco’s brand new Roose Metro store I happened to get a job picking up from there. They had a band playing and they were dishing out free champagne to the first shoppers. As I pulled up outside I expected to see lot’s of happy smiling faces. But no the gathered dignitaries and shoppers looked as if they were gagging and some held their noses and were a sickly shade of green. Was the champagne off, or were the nibbles stale? The answer hit me when I rolled down the window to call out my fares name. It seems that the local Salthouse Pool sewerage works had picked that day of all days to release a stomach churning stench to foul the proceedings. I bet the phone lines to United Utilities were red hot that morning.
Sunday, February 24
I Don't Do Domestics
Sunday afternoon and I pull up to pick-up outside a local pub, just like I have done many hundreds of times before. All seems well as the couple walk up and he gets in the front and she slides into the back seat. I ask where too as usual and then think the guy is joking when he says calmly “I don’t want her in the taxi with me throw her out please.” Still thinking he is joking I smile and ask “where too” again and the lady shouts loudly “yeah where too, you two timing rat.” When I look in the rear view I see that the lady has been bawling and that her eye make-up had ran making her look like Amy Winehouse on a bad day. It’s then that the horrible truth dawns on me; I have been hijacked into a full blown domestic. It seems that she had followed him to the pub and was trying to catch him out misbehaving. Both seemed to have had more than a drop to drink and soon all hell was let loose as they started to argue. Both tried to get me involved, but as any taxi driver will tell you the unwritten rule is that you never ever get involved in domestics. After much shouting they both got out the cab, and then promptly got back in again, and then out and then in. After the fifth time I held my hand out to the guy and he handed me some cash. With that I was off leaving them both stood on the pavement arguing furiously away. All of this was very much to the amusement of the watching nicotine addicts chuffing away on the pub car park. I just don’t do domestics, but still I wish more passengers would pay me for doing nothing.
Saturday, February 23
Jack Frost Pop
I took a stroll down Barrow's Dalton road this week, and I have to admit to being the usual downtrodden Barrovian male standing outside the shops whilst the missus goes inside for seemingly days at a time. After getting fed - up of dodging dive bombing pigeons and ould lasses trying to lame me with wheeled shopping trolleys (why do they always have a tartan pattern eh?) I was tempted by the bargain basement style of shop which has recently opened, and entered for a browse. A huge display of brightly coloured bottles caught my eye and I homed in for a closer look presuming that it was a soft drink of some kind. But no it turned out to be 2.5 litres that’s 5.283 pints of strong white cider for less than £2.50p. Unbelievable that’s less than 50p a pint, that works out cheaper than some leading brand soft drinks. And at 7.5 percent alcohol, getting steaming drunk for less than £2. 50p would be child’s play. But looking at the packaging and advertising logos it’s hard not to get the impression that that’s the market the stuff is aimed at.
When I got home I went online and did a search for the brand name and was shocked to see what appears to be spoof profiles’ advertising the stuff on the social networking site Bebo. This site is mainly used by school kids, and going by the language and style of the pages this is just the target audience they are aiming for. This just seems to be a cheap cynical way of getting round the ban on advertising alcohol to kids. Let’s hope a stop is soon put to this blatant glamorising of cheap booze to children. Check out the pages here and here see what you think.
Friday, February 22
School Punch Up
The talking point locally for the last few months or so has been Cumbria County Council plans to shut Thorncliffe, Alfred Barrow and Parkview schools and replace them with a single 1,200-pupil academy. Even when the plans were first made public most local folk I talked to about it were dead set against the idea. But just as predicted by a lot of my passengers, and despite strong public opposition, the authority’s cabinet unanimously backed the plans and agreed it should proceed with a process to shut the secondary schools in August 2009. The council says it wants to transform the secondary system to improve standards and buildings. But most local folk remain unimpressed and the feeling is as one of my passengers put it “it’s just like a factory really, and the bigger the factory the cheaper the processing cost per; unit produced.” Unfortunately in this case the units in question happen to be our local schoolchildren. Others fares point out the traffic chaos near the proposed site at school starting and leaving times already, and predict total gridlock and an increase in traffic accidents. Some parents tell me that they will struggle to find the cash to fund the expensive new school uniform that will no doubt be required, especially those with several kids. But the last word goes to some of the older kids I take to and from the affected schools. They tell me that all the schools involved have always had a fierce rivalry towards each other, and as one put it “we all fight out of school, so when they mix us all together in one school it will be one big constant punch up.”
Thursday, February 21
Stella Versus Facecream
"What do you think you're doing?" asks the wife
"They're on offer, only £10 for 12 bottles", he says
"Put them back. We can't afford it," says the wife and they carry on shopping...
A few aisles later the woman picks up a £20 jar of face cream and sticks it into the trolley.
"What do you think you're doing?" asks the man,
"It's my face cream. It makes me look beautiful," she says
the man replies... "SO DOES TWELVE BOTTLES OF STELLA, AND IT'S HALF THE FLIPPING PRICE"
Ferry Hotel Roadblock
Tuesday, February 19
It was proven beyond doubt that we Barrovians are all a bunch of softies this afternoon. There laying smack in the middle of Greengate Street, which is one of Barrow’s busiest main roads was a beautiful big bouquet of yellow roses. How they got there is a mystery, maybe someone accidentally left them on the roof of their car whilst unlocking it. As I passed I swerved slightly to avoid driving over them, maybe the owner would realise and come back for them. But surely they wouldn’t last too long in this heavy traffic, what a shame I thought. But at least two hours later, having forgotten all about them I drove up towards Greengate Hill again. Stopped at the traffic lights at the bottom of the hill I was perplexed to see all the cars coming down the hill do a little swerve at the top of the hill. Surely not, after what must have been hundreds of Buses, trucks and cars passing by, I thought the flowers will be well and truly crushed into the tarmac by now. But no, when I reached the top of the hill there they lay totally unscathed.
Monday, February 18
The price of private number plates climbed to crazy new heights today when a wealthy Arab bought the registration “1” - for a record £7milion.
“I bought it because it’s the best number,” said Saeed Khouri, a member of a prominent
“I bought it because I want to be the best in the world.”
Khouri refused to reveal how many cars he owned and which one of them will carry the record-breaking single digit plate.
The reg is one of a series of unique number plates which the
But unlike ordinary car plates issued to drivers here and most other vanity series plates which carry both Arabic and Western numerals and script, defining the issuing city and country, Khouri’s plate had only the Western numeral and no letters.
The record sale surpassed that of its predecessor, an Emirate license plate that had just “5” on it - also no Arabic numerals or letters, after Talal Khouri, who is no relation to Saeed, plopped down £3.4million for it at an earlier auction, the plate adorned his prized Rolls-Royce
The reg is one of a series of unique number plates which the
What a total mess I found around the area of Barrow's
Sunday, February 17
Early on Sunday morning and three separate fares that I picked up asked me the same question. "Was it you that picked me up last night?" Nothing that I told them about not working the previous night could convince them that it wasn't me that picked them up. Two of them actually tried to carry on the conversation that they thought that they had with me the night before. Have I got a double who works the nights driving a similar taxi maybe? Well no, I know for a fact that none of the night drivers are anywhere near as good looking as me, that's why they only work in the dark eh! But I have come across this before, and have come to the conclusion that if we had a look-alike competition for taxi drivers with drunks for judges, we would all win first prize. Yes the truth of the matter is that whatever the shape, size colouring, whether they be bald or hairy all taxi drivers look alike to drunks. The thing is though it only seems to work the next morning when they are still under the influence of the drink. Which when you think about it can sometimes be a good thing, some folk we pick-up will be in a sorry drunken state and tell us all sorts of embarrassing secrets. But when we pick them up a day or two later even though we recognise them, they just don't have a clue who it was that took their guilty confession.
Friday, February 15
The council is set to introduce the `basic skills assessment' for all new applicants for private hire and hackney - black cab - taxi licences. Candidates will have to prove they can respond appropriately to commonly-used expressions like `Can you drop me after the lights?' and `Can I have a receipt?'
They will also have to speak clearly on topics including recent journeys they have taken and their favourite places in England.
The council has indicated the oral exams will be in the form of a `relaxed conversation' with follow-up questions to prevent learning `parrot-fashion'. Candidates would be given multiple-choice maths questions, such as how much change should be given from a £20 note if the fare cost £9.30.
Those who fail the test will not be allowed to take the standard `knowledge' test, which assesses their ability to use an A-Z as well as their understanding of routes. The move, set to be approved as a 12-month pilot, will be paid for by adding £10 to the fee for applying for a new licence.
Groups representing drivers of black cabs welcomed the scheme, admitting members of the public had expressed concern about the standard of English of some drivers.
George Simms, of the Taxi Owners and Drivers Association, said: "People need to know drivers can be understood and make themselves clear. Probably the majority of taxi drivers now are from communities that do not have English as a first language."
Any candidate who failed would be helped in improving language or number skills. Existing drivers of black cabs and private-hire drivers will not be forced to take the exams. It currently costs £155 to apply for a black cab licence and £207 for a minicab plate.
A council spokesman said: "Taxi drivers are ambassadors for Manchester. The vast majority do an excellent job but we are considering the introduction of a basic skills assessment for new applicants as part of our focus on improving the experience of taxi customers."
Wednesday, February 13
I see that Barrow shipyard boss Murray Easton tells us that Barrow needs to spruce up its image. He tells us “I love the area but Barrow does not have a good reputation in the rest of the country” and that “We need to look at our image and think how do we sell Barrow factually and forcibly to try and counter the image perceived by people in southern
Monday, February 11
Driving onto the
The guys who wheel clamp untaxed vehicles on behalf of the DVLA were out in force round Barrow this week, the town was littered with cars immobilized by the big yellow steel triangles. Mind you the guys were grinning like
Sunday, February 10
Seeing the Light
Well it seems that our Government has had bend to the will of the European Union again, with the result that all new cars are to be fitted with automatic daytime headlights within four years. The Government previously opposed the idea on the grounds that using lights in the daytime would increase fuel consumption and emissions, but conceded it was unable to oppose European legislation. Trying to soften the blow of having to kowtow to
Saturday, February 9
Saturday and it seemed like the first day of an early spring. And as usual when we get an unexpected bit of sunshine, folk were out and about in their droves. But after driving past the windy cavern in front of Barrow town hall, which is laughingly called our town square I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing. After several more trips past the bustling square which is overlooked by the Gothic splendour of the offices of our lords and masters, it slowly dawned on me. There seemed to be a distinct lack of black clothing and an unusual surplus of smiles and skateboards amongst the young uns that hang out around there most Saturdays. That was it; I couldn’t see any sign of the usual Gaggle of Goths. Not too long ago the town square looked like a crowd outside the crypt for a solemn Victorian funeral. What’s happened? It’s a grave situation. Has the Goth scene passed on, have all the young Goths metamorphosed into skater dudes? Or are they just too depressed to show their impossibly white faces. Have they gone for good or is this just a blip on the local fashion scene and they are trying to organize a Gothic revival.
Friday, February 8
Thursday, February 7
Wednesday, February 6
BarrowCabs is a new site for Barrow taxi drivers run by a Barrow taxi driver. This site is independent of any taxi firm or office and is solely for the benefit of local taxi drivers, whether they be hackney or private hire. As well as a forum to discuss local issues it includes links to weather forecasts, roadwork’s, proposed and ongoing, Barrow council licensing conditions and links to loads of other useful stuff. Let's hope that this site is taken up and used by the local taxi community.
Tuesday, February 5
Have we all forgotten about pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday as it is sometimes known? This year it has fallen very early because of the early Easter, but even so this is the first year that none of my fares seemed to know about it. None of the shoppers I picked up from the local supermarkets had bought pancake mix or the traditional lemon juice to squeeze over them.
Now I learn that health and safety rules are beginning to put an end to the traditional sport of pancake racing.
A Cathedral pancake race that is part of a 600-year-old tradition has been stopped because of health and safety rules. The bell at Ripon Cathedral, which has rung at to mark Shrove Tuesday since the 15th century, has signalled the start of the city’s pancake race for many years.
However, the event, in which children, traders, soldiers and even clergy compete, has been abandoned because of the amount of work needed to carry out risk assessments.
In past years, the event, part of a long tradition of pancake races in Ripon, was likened to a village sports day, a last chance to have fun before the solemn season of Lent.
The race has been growing in popularity and even involved members of 38 Regt Royal Engineers, based in Ripon, who cook pancakes from a field kitchen outside the west front of the cathedral.
“We had hoped to make the pancake race as much of a tradition as the pancake bell and it’s a travesty that it has been killed off."
It’s sad isn’t it, and now surveys tell us that two thirds of people in the country no longer mark the Christian tradition of making pancakes.
Pancakes have featured in cookbooks since 1439. The custom of flipping or tossing them is believed to have started in the 17th century. They are made from rich ingredients that include eggs and milk, which were used up in households before the 40 days of Lent during which only plain food should be eaten. I don’t know, folk will be telling me that they don’t even know that it’s Ash Wednesday on the day after Shrove Tuesday next eh!
Monday, February 4
Law or Religion?
For reasons which will become obvious I have had to be very careful how I worded this. No insult or slur is intended to any one race or religion. But this is a true story of an awkward predicament I was placed in. The fare was from the Furness General Hospitals staff quarters and was made up of two young ladies and a boy of seven or eight year’s age and a toddler of two or three. Because neither of the children was old or tall enough to legally ride in the front seat I naturally expected one of the lady’s to ride up front. This happened as expected, and we were just about to set off when a chap rushed over and tapped on the passenger window. The lady rolled down the window and a few stern words were exchanged in a language I couldn’t understand. The lady then got out of the taxi and exchanged seats with the young lad. I turned round to explain that he couldn’t sit up front but was met with blank faces. The young lad then tugged my sleeve and explained that he was the only one who spoke English. He pleaded for me to let him stay up front and explained what was going on. It seems that the man had reminded the lady that for religious reasons she could not sit up front with a male who was not related. The young lad was obviously embarrassed and like myself was in an awkward situation. Now then what do I do? Do I insult their obviously deeply held religious beliefs? Or do I risk breaking the
Sunday, February 3
Naughty Boys Club
It was obvious that my fare that I had picked up nice and early on this cold and dismal Sunday morning wasn’t that keen on having to venture out. He looked like he had been on the ale the previous night, and was suffering from a huge hangover. When I asked him where he was going he was definitely a bit shady about telling me. “Err in town somewhere by
Mmm remind me not to ever decide to drive a taxi down in
Down in the land of nervous sheep it seems that three people have been arrested in connection with an attack on a taxi driver who was actually set on fire.
Douglas Hall suffered mild burns to his head and face after being set alight by two men who were trying to steal his takings.
It happened after he went to collect a fare in Milford Haven on Friday night.
It is thought a liquid or gas was squirted into his face and set on fire.
Police in the town said Mr Hall had received a call requesting taxi to collect a fare from Cellar Hill off
Mr Hall said when he arrived at the location he was approached by a man who demanded his money.
He was squirted over the head and face with some sort of accelerant which he was able to put out with his hands
“It is a location that is quite secluded and there were two males in the lane with hoodies.
“One approached the victim and asked him to hand over his money.”
Mr Hall refused and got out of the car pushing the man backwards.
It was then Mr Hall noticed another man standing on the other side of the road wearing a grey hooded top.
“He was then squirted over the head and face with some sort of accelerant which he was able to put out with his hands,” explained the police officer.
“He was very lucky. He has been injured but no where near as horrifically as it could have been.
It is believed the incident which happened, not late at night as you would think, but at 9: pm, had been premeditated.
“It was clearly thought about but thankfully incidents of this kind are few and far between,” said Ch Insp Richards.
Let’s hope it stays that way as well eh!
Saturday, February 2
Friday, February 1
A Greek taxi driver is donating his record-breaking Mercedes car to the company’s museum in